The gleaming invitation to a chum’s 25th Wedding Anniversary party on Saturday, with a theme of “silver,” set the cogs rolling. Fully cognisant as I was that not everyone would throw themselves into the spirit of the thing, (at their last “Strictly Come Dancing Party,” I was again one of the few, but my trendy outfit from the West Country Ken & Barbie Rugby Tour did the trick, right up until the 6’5’’ next door neighbour turned up in a maroon taffeta rig and out-dragged me).
Unfortunately, in one of those moments best suited to an Ealing Comedy or a Fashion Disaster Movie, I was indeed, the only one in fancy dress. The 6’ 5’’ next door neighbour didn’t even get out of the starting blocks with a blazer and silver tie. Personally, I thought I cut a rather a dashing, if lonely, figure in my Long John Silver outfit. I arrived looking like I’d crashed through the space time continuum or just like a bloke who likes dressing up at odd times. Here incidentally, are a couple of tips for any of you considering appearing as a marauding pirate at someone’s elegant and civilised party.
Watching a YouTube video of how to put on pirate make up done by some 14 year old American teenager is not a pathway to looking like Johnny Depp. In fact just don’t bother. It’s a bugger to get off and when the remnants of the black eye pencil stuff are still there when you go to work, even though your face looks as if it’s been scrubbed with rough sandpaper, it makes you look like a bigger wally than you did on Saturday night.
If the girl in the shop suggests the black wax stuff that gives you a missing tooth effect is a smart idea then turn around and walk out. It isn’t. It makes you look like you’ve been chewing on a melted Dunlop tyre, makes your food taste like an old church candle and is an absolute bastard to remove.
Nonetheless, the evening was trotting along nicely and after dinner I repaired to the lavatory and on return to the marquee stopped to ask a stranger for a light, (no pockets in pirate outfits). She turned around and knock me down, it was an old girlfriend of seven years that I hadn’t seen for twenty two. Betrayed, broken hearted and abandoned like some emotional road kill, (I didn’t take it badly, honestly), I looked in her eyes and thought if there was ever a moment for Portsmouth to be the epicentre of an 8.3 magnitude earthquake right now would be good. She meanwhile looked at me in the pirate rig with the dodgy make-up, black teeth and an expression like a stunned mullet and thought, “this is what I’ve been missing for 22 years”...................not. Rick from Casablanca I wasn’t. Quickly regaining my poise as a senior pirate we actually had a rounded and civilised conversation which got really interesting when she asked what my wife did, right at the moment that Mrs Flashbang hoved into view like an Edwardian Dreadnought. “Why don’t you ask her,” I said...... “Flashbang meet Ice Queen, Ice Queen meet Flashbang,” which, being the utter coward that I am, allowed me to sprint off to the bar. You just couldn’t make some of this stuff up. Actually, if ever Hollywood is short of Super Heroes then there are two strong candidates right there... I don’t know of anyone or anything that would tangle with either of them, or their special powers, and that absolutely includes me.
Interestingly, the ex has signed up for four months on the Clipper Round The World Race. That will be good for her and I meanwhile, will be able to approach strangers at parties with alacrity.
Meanwhile a late invitation comes scudding into the email box for a “Late Summer Party, Midday to Midnight,” from an old Army chum. That’s my kind of party; right up until I read the last line, “will be cancelled in the event of really bad weather or C being deployed.” The only deployments I get are being sent to Sainsbury’s by Mrs F to get bread and milk, which is about all I’m trusted with; which is exactly what my friend should be doing. We’re all getting too old for that kind of excitement.